It happened again this morning: around 7 a.m., a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Bowery and Hester. The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital with minor cuts to the hand and face, according to a fire department spokesperson.
Such incidents are commonplace, but politicians and police officials have become determined to stamp them out, putting their muscle behind Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sweeping Vision Zero campaign.
On Wednesday, City Council member Stephen Levin and Ydanis Rodriguez introduced a resolution calling on the state legislature to pass a bill introduced earlier this year that would reduce New York City’s speed limit to 20 MPH — a goal that’s even more ambitious than De Blasio’s plan to reduce it by five miles to 25 MPH.
And in the East Village — scene of three traffic fatalities in 2013 — Captain Steven Hellman, the Ninth Precinct’s executive officer, said his officers would be “proactive” in backing De Blasio’s campaign to eliminate pedestrian deaths and injuries with initiatives like cracking down on dangerous cab drivers.
“We’re going to educate people to be more aware when they’re crossing streets,” he told the precinct’s Community Council during its monthly meeting last week. “The streets are so cluttered and congested. There’s so much traffic. We had three fatalities last year,” he said. “But none this year.” He attributed many of the accidents to “inattentiveness.”
A notice posted on the precinct’s Community Council website warns residents that the city’s Department of Transportation has installed new bike and bus lanes on First and Second Avenues. It tells them to “use extreme caution when crossing these intersections, look both ways for incoming vehicular traffic. And bike riders that may be traveling the opposite direction.”
De Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, modeled after a successful Swedish program, calls for enhanced street lighting and more speed and red-light cameras to detect and fine drivers violating safety laws.
Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, said members began talking about more red-light cameras about a month before De Blasio took office in January. “We knew we would have to advocate to get state funding,” she said of the controversial camera program, up for renewal by the state legislature this year.
Proposed locations for the cameras — along with a request for a safety speed bump on East Fourth Street, between Avenues C and D — will be among the issues discussed at the March 11 meeting of CB 3’s transportation and public safety committee.
Stetzer said CB 3 is working with the mayor and Manhattan Borough President Gayle A. Brewer, who asked community boards to send her a preliminary list of the “most dangerous intersections” in their districts — traffic hot spots that require attention and analysis. (The list is embedded below.)
In a letter sent Feb. 13 to city Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and Police Commissioner William Bratton, Brewer wrote that she believed more accessible pedestrian signals in Manhattan are needed to “ensure the safety of people with various disabilities.” She also noted that school traffic guards were crucial to achieving the goals of the Vision Zero task force.
In Brooklyn last month, Council Member Stephen Levin called for increased traffic enforcement on Greenpoint’s McGuinness Boulevard, after a 32-year-old woman was struck and killed by a box truck in December.
This week, in a prepared statement regarding their push for lower speed limits, he and Rodriguez noted the United Kingdom Transportation Department’s findings that a pedestrian has just a 5 percent chance of dying if struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour — versus a 45 percent chance if the vehicle is going 30 miles per hour.
“The resolution calls on [Albany] to pass existing legislation” introduced by State Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell and State Sen. Martin Dilan, said a spokesman for Levin. “We don’t want another New Yorker killed in a traffic crash. This resolution is sending a statement from New York City that we need action now to save lives.”
Update: Less than 12 hours after the publication of this post, around 1:30 a.m., a 21-year-old woman was struck and killed by an MTA bus at the intersection of Meeker and Union Avenues in Williamsburg.